The field for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament will be announced March 13. That gives us a little more than two weeks to debate who will make it.
Which teams are in position to make the tournament, and how secure is their footing? How strong are the tournament teams likely to be, and how deserving are they of a spot in the tournament to begin with?
We take on those questions below. The chart features the top 76 teams in Joe Lunardi’s Bracketology (the 68 tournament teams, the first four out and the next four out) alongside ESPN’s rankings: the Basketball Power Index and strength of record.
BPI uses game results to produce a projection of team strength.
Strength of record, developed this season by ESPN’s Sports Analytics team, is a résumé rating that measures how difficult it is to achieve a team’s record, given its schedule to date. Strength of record takes into account the opponents a team has played as well as where the game was played.
It’s important to remember that strength of record and BPI are not designed to predict the tournament field. Rather, strength of record can be used to analyze possible snubs, undeserved bids or overseeded/underseeded teams based on their résumés. Once the field is set, BPI can be used to determine which teams might make a deep run or outperform their seeds or are ripe for an upset.
The Wildcats have a win over then-No. 1 Oklahoma on Feb. 6 on their résumé. But that is Kansas State’s only win in 11 games against ranked teams. Four of the Wildcats’ 13 losses have been by four points or fewer, including two games that went past 40 minutes. Kansas State has played the fifth-toughest schedule in Division I.
Princeton ranks 11 spots higher in strength of record than Yale, which is the current Ivy League leader. The Tigers’ best performance this season based on BPI game score came against Yale in a 75-63 win on Feb. 19. Should each team win out, there would be a playoff to determine the league’s automatic berth to the NCAA tournament.